Rustem Ertug Altinay is a doctoral student at New York University, Department of Performance Studies. His main area of research is gender, sexuality and body politics in Turkey. His article on Turkish transgender diva Bulent Ersoy was published in the Trans- Special Issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly.
"'In Konya she would marry a regular dude, but Serife from Konya is now a Lady': Power, Sexuality and Cities in Gungor Bayrak's Autobiographic Songs"
Evolved from Ottoman institutions and Western establishments in the Empire, the gazino emerged as a distinct type of nightclub in Turkey’s big cities after the early 20th century. As a space of entertainment where women and men performed and entertained themselves together, the gazinos were also spaces where the codes of gender and sexuality were negotiated and explored. In 1984, a gazino at the Izmir International Fair housed a major scandal: the Mayor of Izmir banned the performances of popular music singer Gungor Bayrak (born Serife Bayrak) on the grounds that her costume was too revealing. After the incident, Bayrak protested the Mayor with an autobiographical song: Benim Adim Gungor Bayrak [My Name is Gungor Bayrak]. Combining elements of classical Turkish music and Western pop, the song presented a portrait of Bayrak as a young, attractive yet chaste and honorable woman. In 1987, Bayrak married Sir Houari Berichi and moved to Paris. In 1992, she made a brief comeback with her second and last album Leydi Serife [Lady Serife], named after her second autobiographical song narrating Bayrak’s life from her childhood in the provincial city of Konya to her rise to Ladyship in Europe. In this presentation, I will explore the lyrical and musical content of Bayrak’s autobiographical songs within the context they were produced and performed in order to explore the dynamics of sexuality and power in relation to urban space during the heyday of neoliberalization in Turkey.